1. Matt Cramp says

    I feel like scientists are a little hard on Mythbusters. Certainly, it’s not especially rigorous (they did at least write things down, as joke from the show goes), but they structured the show around disproving a hypothesis rather than confirming them, which is much more in the spirit of the scientific method. The most they were willing to say about a ‘myth’ was that it was plausible – not that it was true. Building the show around disconfirmation means that some of the rigour required to prove something isn’t necessary. You don’t need a control if you don’t have to worry about whether it’d happen anyway

  2. weylguy says

    I never watch shows like CSI because they invariably feature young, brilliant, gorgeous men and women dressed like fashion models, meticulously poring over fake but incredibly realistic rotting corpses designed purely for shock value. I doubt if most real detectives would know a polymerase chain reaction from their ass, much less than the TV versions who seem to do molecular biology on the side. Oh, and the stories stink as well.

  3. blf says

    The secret to watching shows like CSI is to have an indestructible TV. Consequently, the bricks you rip out of the wall and throw at the TV don’t stop the show or fix the nonsenses. The walls, of course, eventually collapse, but the TV blares on and on. (Not being able to see the TV after gouging our yer own eyes and throwing them in the general direction of the TV does not, despite resultant inability the see the nonsenses, count.)

    Eventually, you’ll be dug out of the rubble and taken away, gibbering, and given a private room with cushions — lots of cushions, including on the walls — and another indestructible TV continuously showing relaxing shows like, er, CSI. This is so much better than turning the fecking thing off originally (less effort & free food, among other advantages).

    And indestructible TV means you get to see all the adverts, as well. This so atrophies yer brain you never even consider, e.g., boycotting the advertisers.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I treat crime shows like a fantasy novel. Don’t get mired in the non-real details, and enjoy the story.

  5. microraptor says

    My problem with Mythbusters was how obviously the show started running out of ideas to test during the last few seasons.

  6. says

    @microraptor, #8
    The sheer number of “movie myths” they dealt with shows that. Of COURSE you can’t make a bullet curve by whipping the gun around real hard. These were the worst of the worst and designed only to have them blow things up or crash cars. IOW, Michael Bay meets Mythbusters. *GAG*

  7. Dunc says

    “Today we’re testing the myth that a significant proportion of our audience will watch anything, as long as it involves gratuitous explosions…”

    Result: Myth confirmed!

  8. Dunc says

    And don’t get me started on Phil Plait’s “Bad Universe” show, which was apparently dedicated to demonstrating that there is no concept in astrophysics that can’t be illustrated by blowing up a couple of hundred pounds of ANFO in a quarry.

    Pro-tip: if you’re spending more time taking about how much ANFO you’re going to blow up to illustrate a concept than about the concept itself, you’re probably not doing science any more.

  9. jazzlet says

    I tend to go for historical police dramas like Foyle’s War set in the UK during WWII or Inspector George Gently set in the North East of England in the 1960s which avoid the ridiculous speed science because of when they are set, or for contempory crime dramas ones that focus on the people, like Vera set in the North East or Lewis set in Oxford (a lot of the reason I watch this is I grew up in Oxford) or Scott and Bailey set in Greater Manchester (where I now live) with two female leads and having a former policewoman as part of the team.

  10. Arnaud says

    Nerd @ #6 : I am watching (more like binge-watching, don’t judge me!) ‘Grimm’ at the moment. Police procedural, law, science, it fails on every single count but who cares? It’s hilarious!
    (Adalind : “I cannot be pregnant again! I still haven’t got my first baby back!”

  11. Rich Woods says

    @jazzlet #13:

    Foyle’s War is stunningly good. It’s the only non-sci-fi/fantasy TV series I’ve splashed out on for the full box set.

  12. evodevo says

    Yes. THIS. My husband is constantly annoyed by my ongoing comments on their wildly inaccurate portrayal of science procedures (looking at DNA on a light scope????? Srsly??? Demanding a DNA profile by this evening LOL, instead of the 1-2 years our state lab is behind …) Forensic pathology has advanced a lot, but nowhere near as far as these series take it. But then, they solve seemingly complex cases in a day or two lol

  13. evodevo says

    Oh, and the science isn’t the only fantastic thing … the legalistics are also unreal …. the cowed criminal admits everything after a couple minutes of challenge from the cop, instead of lawyering up immediately and walking later because of complete lack of evidence … give me a break.

  14. microraptor says

    drksky @9:

    Yeah, some of the movie myth episodes were good, like when they were testing scenes from classic movies like Indiana Jones, but the obvious tie-in episodes with movies that were coming out at the time? Horrible.

    And then there was “let’s devote another episode to the JATO car.”

  15. VolcanoMan says

    @Matt Cramp #1

    Actually, the Mythbusters did “confirm” myths. It happened maybe once every 6-8 stories they covered, and oftentimes the “myth” they confirmed was not actually a myth at all (which is the biggest problem I had with the show). For example, they tested a “myth” that a bullet fired in a horizontal line will hit the ground at the same time as a bullet dropped from the height of the horizontal-shooting gun at the exact same time as it shoots the bullet. This is a classic physics problem (which they acknowledged) and they managed to create a rigorous enough experimental setup that they “confirmed” it. Ultimately though, it is the math that proves this “myth”, and confirming it IRL is just intellectual wanking. It was cool though that they got it to work.

    That example is symptomatic of microraptor’s point – they didn’t have enough good ideas for myths so they had to resort to calling things myths which aren’t actually myths. Like testing whether one can become skilled in something (they tested golf) entirely from using virtual reality games designed to teach that skill. I don’t think anyone believes that.

  16. screechymonkey says

    Arnaud @14,

    Grimm isn’t great television by any means, but it can be a fun diversion. Certainly a great advertisement for the Portland area, with all the nature and scenery. (Well, minus the horrible murders, but those are fictional…)

    Mythbusters did use controls, though sometimes their sample sizes were really really low. I vaguely recall at least one experiment where they were forced to label something “plausible” that they were pretty confident was nonsense, simply because their test wasn’t powerful enough to rule out what was quite likely statistical noise.

  17. rietpluim says

    If TV science was more like real science, Myth Busters would get past peer review.

  18. Callinectes says

    The real benefit of Mythbusters was in promoting the idea that if you wanted to figure something out, rather than argue, or guess, or look it up on Wikipedia, you could actually conduct a real-world investigation through experiment. Of course, many such experiments are beyond the means of the public for reasons of cost, technical skill, safety, and/or legality, which was the secondary benefit of Mythbusters.